I must confess that my Lawn Tractor has been giving me a little trouble recently. The last three or four times I used it, I was getting uneven cuts. It was dragging badly and it got hung up on a couple of high spots. I casually looked for the answer to what was causing this, but seeing nothing obvious, and the problem not being too severe, I continued to use it.
Let me promise you that before starting any motorized device, I always check the oil and the gas, check tensions and tightness where appropriate, and do a walk around to make certain that “this” is in fact still attached to “that”.
So I was finishing up the yard yesterday and decided to mow the, now knee deep in weeds, garden patch. Part way through I took too big a slice of that weedy pie and stalled my mower with grass and weeds wrapped around the blade.
Have I mentioned that I am not as young as I used to be? In point of fact, I am not as young as most TURTLES used to be. Getting down on one knee once involved just dropping down. Getting up was a matter of rising in total defiance of any laws of gravity that might believe they apply.
Getting down on one knee now requires a thorough recon of the area to make certain that it is clear of twigs, pebbles and other foreign objects, plotting a route down that allows for too much yaw and play in my bad and my worse knee (I do not have a good one) having already chosen what, if necessary, I will use to pull or push myself to my feet. Can I get an Amen from the Geriatrics among you?
So, I get down on one knee and free the blade of all fouling weeds. Now to get up: I put my hand on the right rear tire and push myself to my feet. To save you any doubt I did in fact make it to my feet, but picture for a moment pushing down on a big black marshmallow. My right rear tire was effectively flat. I used the gauge on it and the gauge read “seriously?”
It is two tenths of a mile up a dirt road to our little quick shop. So carefully I limped my little tractor to the quick shop only to find out that the air hose hanging between the pumps was busted. Limping back, I recalled that, while my own portable air compressor was busted, I always carry a can of Fix A Flat behind the seat of my truck. Fix a flat worked fine and I continued with my chore for the afternoon.
That is not why I started this little essay however. I want to discuss a truth that was brought home to me as my hand buried itself into what I assumed was a functional tire and I realized with a flash of insight what I had overlooked for about a month.
A Lawn Tractor runs so much better if all four tires are inflated.
You may say that this is obvious and that any fool would know it. I will tell you that I am personally acquainted with one fool who obviously did not. The larger issues I meditated on while I bounced around finishing the lawn had nothing really to do with tires or tractors but expanded to include life in general. They included such things as:
1. No matter how smart you are, how well trained you are, how careful you try to be, and how much you plan, something will go wrong. The equation we call life has far too many variables in it for us to be able to control them. Only the Great Mathematician has that kind of skill.
2. Beating yourself up over something is a waste of time. Every person who has ever performed knows that you are going to make mistakes; they also know that, even if Auntie Mable’s garter belt explodes in the middle of Sweet Hour of Prayer, you do NOT stop. Quit blaming yourself and fix the problem.
3. If you cannot laugh at yourself it is going to be a long, long life. There are things in life that require serious contemplation; you are not one of them. We live one step away from our next stumble; you can laugh or cry. On my better days, I laugh.
4. The Maker of Everything made it all to its purpose, and declared it perfect. The designer and builder of the only perfect things loves you. Even when you neglect to check the air in your tires.
When I finished, I came in and, over coffee, shared with Connie my story of the mushy tire and some of my contemplations, I told her then, “I probably should make ‘You Lawn Tractor Works Better With All The Tires Inflated’ my motto. I wonder how that would look in Latin?”